Sunday, June 1, 2008

Old Mother Hen Traditional Herbal Soup 十全老母鸡小吃店

KL Style dark Hokkien mee
The Batu Pahat gang strikes again. This time, lured by tales of crispy pork lard topped K.L. style dark Hokkien mee and exotic stir-fried fallopian tubes, we headed to this little shop in Geylang that's a bit of a makanguru insider's secret (see Makansutra thread here). When I first arrived, I was quite taken aback. The shop was even more "old-school" and dingy than I expected and it felt like I had entered another country/decade. However, super-friendly owner Jimmy immediately makes you feel welcome with his cheery exuberance. He gently helped us select their signature dishes and made recommendations for the freshest fish.

First of the dishes to arrive was this huge platter of KL-style dark Hokkien noodles (S$12, medium portion). Oh yes, we requested for extra crispy pork lard. The truly dark gravy was a fairly close rendition of the Malaysian version. We felt this was slightly better than the one served at Big Eater Seafood. The pork lard here is less crispy though but some may prefer it that way. It also didn't have any strong porky taste that may turn others off.

Next up was our "adventure" dish. Fallopian tubes or 生肠 (of the piggy variety) stir-fried (signature style, S$12, medium portion) in a sweetly spicy sauce with dried shrimp, chilies, onions and spring onions. Southernoise had actually tried this before (this is his second visit) and he highly recommended it to us. It was indeed good. Delightfully crunchy, the springy texture provides that coveted mouthfeel that the Chinese prize. The chopped tubes themselves are quite mild-tasting, so they make a great base for carrying sauces. I've actually eaten this piggy part before but it was just called intestines when I had it. Probably a euphemism. Most people would likely recoil in horror at the mere suggestion of this body part being eaten. But I say, it makes full and very good use of the pig that died!

Signature homemade bean curd
Onto something more regular. Tofu. Their signature homemade tofu (S$16, medium portion) is an excellent dish. The crisp, deep-fried skin gives way to silky soft insides. Savoury mince topping with dried shrimp, pork lard pieces and spring onions complete the delicious profile.

Red grouper head in sambal sauce
The fish was indeed very fresh today. Jimmy recommended the red grouper head (S$28 for 700g) instead of the patin fish, as our group is not too used to fish heads. The sauce is intensely flavourful, and I can only describe it as a very garlicky sambal that isn't very spicy-hot. Oh, the small, yellow, oblong slices scattered all over the fish we discovered were not pineapple but more fried pork lard!!!

Kailan in two ways - deep-fried shredded leaves topped with pork floss; steamed stalks with garlic
Kailan presented two ways (S$12, medium portion) - the leaves are sliced fine and deep-fried until they resemble nori (dried seaweed) and then topped with pork floss. The bottom half is steamed with a garlic sauce sauce. It's too bad the kailan itself was a bit "old" and therefore too fibrous to be enjoyable.

Claypot chicken rice
This again is another one of their famous dishes. Claypot chicken rice (S$12) that's been lauded as better than Geylang Claypot's further down the road. This is cooked to order on the charcoal and gas stoves at the front of the shop. Yes, the claypot yields a beautiful crust of crispy rice at the bottom, and has decent portions of chicken, chinese sausage, salted egg yolks and salted fish well-mixed in the rice. But perhaps because we were already quite full at this juncture, we felt the flavour was just so-so. Honestly, I prefer my own homecooked version (which you can try making too)!

十全 Old Mother Hen Herbal Soup
The 十全 or "Complete Ten (herbal ingredients) Old Mother Hen Herbal Soup is a must-try since it's even in the name of the shop. As we aren't an adventurous lot with herbal soups, we took a small portion (S$6). This black concoction looks scary but is probably the most palatable 十全 herbal soup I've tasted. It's more sweet than bitter, with plenty of meaty umami in the opaque broth. The chicken itself was stewed til soft, and meat falling off the bone.

Complimentary fruit platter
We actually saw Jimmy trot across the road to buy a watermelon earlier during the meal. Lo and behold, when we finished eating, he presented us a whimsically carved platter of fruits, compliments of the house. This again, is an oft-forgotten, old-school gesture of appreciation whenever a table chalks up an adequately sizeable bill.

All in all, not a bad meal for six costing just S$105 (about S$17.50 each) including drinks (no alcohol, of course). Like most cze-char places, there's no service charge or GST.

Old Mother Hen at 136 Sims Ave (between Lor 17 and 19)
That's Jimmy standing in the background (third from left) with his helpers, preparing for the day. This shop is also just next to the coffeeshop housing the Geylang Hakka Lei Cha Fan (Thunder Rice Tea)! Old Mother Hen opens til quite late (1.30am) but fortunately they are located on the foodie side of Geylang, not the "entertainment" side.

You can hop over to Keropokman's blog and Southernoise's blog to see what they have to say on this outing's food. DancingBlueSeal also went there (before us) twice. You can also see NinjaHK's photos here and Umami's very early post on the claypot chicken rice, showing step-by-step how it's done.

Old Mother Hen Traditional Herbal Soup 十全老母鸡小吃店
136 Sims Ave (between Lorong 17 and 19)
Open daily 11am - 2.30pm; 5pm - 1.30am
Tel: 9128-2793 (Jimmy's handphone)


  1. Ah... Love the noodle and the tofu and the fish.

    Hmmm, would we one day get to try your version of claypot rice made by 'the one' herself ;-p

  2. oh man i love this place and i totally concur that the fried black noodles are simply kickass! i actually reviewed this place twice!

  3. Wow, to think the chinese name of fallopian tubes would lead one to think that they were intestines.
    Just to confirm, they are indeed the part that connects to the ovaries and not real intestines right?

  4. K-man: The claypot rice so easy, recipe there, anyone can make!!! Hmm, mine not so many ingredients! Must try adding salted egg yolk!

    Hey D! I missed that second post of yours! The dishes look even better than the first!! Argh, I must try some of those if I go again. Thanks for the link, have added to the main post.

    Anon: well, Fallopian tubes connect to the ovaries, yes. But my Chinese is bad, so I'm not really sure if the Chinese name refers to Fallopian tubes. Sounds about right, though. "Intestine of Life"!

    Southernoise: nom nom nom - going back a third time perhaps? :D

  5. OMG! OMG! OMG! i've missed out a great chance to taste the love of my life, kl-style hokkien mee!

    lovely pics (as usual :D), and i'll be checking the hokkien mee with lard asap!

  6. Oh man, the Hokkein mee looks sooooo good! I wish I had more hokkein mee when I was back.

  7. Wooo.. the noodles look so delicious!! The other dishes looks good too.

  8. Camemberu, thanks for sharing. Bowl raise high highhhhhhhh

    HB aka Hungrybear

  9. Camemberu, have you tried the claypot rice at lor 33? Just went there last night again for my almost annual dinner. Claypot rice with very nice fresh zi char dishes as sides. Take note the soft shell crab ($28, quite ex) must be eaten hot, else it becomes very oily. Greasy, heaty meal overall but it's quite nice.

  10. Hi Ricky, no I haven't been there yet. It's been on my list for a long time, and I even took some shots of the new premises. Must check it out soon. Thanks for the reminder!

  11. They are now located at 96 Sims Avenue, junction of Geylang Lor 13. Due to lack of space, they do not sell claypot rice anymore but their KL Hokkien Mee and Tofu are very good.


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